Length: 99 Minutes
Main Cast: Melissa McCarthy
Production Company: Gary Sanchez Productions
Written By: Ben Falcone
Directed By: Ben Falcone
Written By Nelson Cumming
After seeing Melissa McCarthy in different roles and movies I have come to the conclusion that her talents are manifested through the careful direction Paul Feig instead of her husband Ben Falcone. Feig has directed McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”, “The Heat” and “Spy”. Falcone has directed McCarthy in “Tammy” and “The Boss”. I think if anyone had to do a ranking from best to worst based on the five titles alone I would be amazed if the latter two were anywhere higher than fourth and fifth.
“The Boss” is not a terrible film by any means. There are moments where I laughed, but the laughs were few and far between. The thing that was the most inconsistent was character and story progression. What hurt the movie the most was probably how hateful Melissa McCarthy’s character inherently was to Kristen Bell’s character who portrays a nice, vulnerable single mother. That detracted me from a lot of the comedy as a whole. Nonetheless, this movie was good overall but it skates on thin ice by the end.
“The Boss” revolves around a cut-throat entrepreneur Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthey) who was arrested and sent to jail for insider trading. When she is released, she lives with her secretary because she has nowhere else to stay. Her secretary is Clare Rowlins (Kristen Bell) who is a struggling single mum. Michelle finds a business opportunity in selling girl scout cookies. But longtime rival Renault (Peter Dinklage) holds a longtime grudge against her and plans to ruin the cookie business Michelle started.
Michelle Darnell’s character is narcissistic, self-centered, relentless and jaded. Those character qualities can be used to great effect (through my own observations) if :
A. The actor does it in short sharp bursts
B. The actor has great comedic timing
C. The actor knows when they need to stop
and finally and most importantly,
D. The character exhibits those qualities to other people who share similar qualities of overconfidence and wit. That way it feels more like a funny exchange with words instead of a bullying exercise against a nice character.
Out of all these four characteristics, only the second one was done well in “The Boss”. There were several scenes in “The Boss” where it was one joke too much (not to be mistaken for one joke not too far). In one scene where Darnell is given fashion advice for Clare on her first date and there is a gag involving her bra that was great (Kristan Bell’s reaction is priceless) but then both girls, Melissa McCarthy especially, was coming up with 7 more jokes, each being less funnier than the last. It was clear that a lot of the scenes were improvised, which is ok when it works, but the editor could easily cut out some of the one-liners and made a tighter movie.
Another problem I have mentioned is when the narcissistic character spouts manipulative rants to inherently nice characters like Clare the single mum. It just felt mean. There is one thing that McCarthey’s character does that drives the two apart and when she pleaded for forgiveness it felt to me that the emotional payoff wasn’t earned. This was because she was a shrew up until that point. Showing of machismo mostly works when both characters are self-confident show-offs or when both characters are at least thick skinned. From the top of my head, great examples are Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller in “Tropic Thunder” and Melissa McCarthy with Jason Statham and Rose Byrne in “Spy”. They are funny because they are witty and mean but most importantly their characters can dish it as well as take it. It just doesn’t work in my opinion if you do it to a character that we come to know is vulnerable and mildly insecure like Clare’s character is.
“The Boss” is actually funny here and there but there are good stretches where it feels mean and there are wild inconsistencies that manifest in the movie climax. I thought Peter Dinklage was good, despite the fact his character is a joke. It could have been improved significantly but that is what you get. “The Boss” narrowly escapes the bad movie zone with the skin of its teeth, but barely **1/4